The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped the first of their back-to-back games on the road in Buffalo. Tampa Bay fell 5-1 to the Sabres in a frustrating contest against the surprising Sabres. Buffalo has been impressive to start the season after being expected to only be in competition for the first overall pick in the draft.
Monday night’s defeat was one that just refused to go the Lightning’s way. They played well enough to win, but Buffalo was much more opportunistic with their chances. The final score might not truly reflect it but that’s what adding on two empty net goals can do. Let’s dissect what went down.
1. Getting Behind Early
Including Monday, Tampa Bay has surrendered the opening goal in all six games they have played so far. Prior to this one, the Lightning had not scored even a single goal in the first period all season. Alex Killorn helped bump this one troubling streak with his goal in the first period. After the first period, the Lightning would go to the first intermission even at a goal apiece.
2. Brian Elliot’s Lightning Debut
In game number six, Andrei Vasilevskiy finally got his first night off. Elliot would spell Vasilevskiy Monday night with a back-to-back at hand and what should have been an inferior opponent. The numbers were not great for Elliot who surrendered three goals on 23 shots. He would like two of the three goals against back. One being a huge rebound chance given up where Elliot was unable to locate the puck, leading to the opening goal. The other was a backbreaking goal early in the third period while trailing 2-1 as Elliot was beaten high to the glove side immediately following a Mathieu Joseph turnover at the blue line. The score did not end up the way it did, because of Elliot.
3. What Other Streaks Could There Possible be?
While the Lightning did finally find the net in the first period, they still have a few troubling trends present in each game so far. Tampa Bay has failed to hold a lead for even a second this season and have trailed going into the third period in every single game. In three of the previous five games, the Lightning have been able to stage a third period comeback to force overtime. There was none of that happening in Buffalo. There will not be long to sit around as they will be back in action tomorrow in Pittsburgh. But to say the least, it would be nice to see this team finally score first and get a lead.
4. Getting Goalied
41-year-old veteran netminder Craig Anderson was outstanding in this one in helping shut down the Lightning. For some reason, instead of retiring, Anderson decided to extend his career to play in Buffalo. Well, it turns out he’s still got it. He made 35 saves on 36 Lightning shots. Tampa Bay could have even had 50 shots on the night as they could have pulled the trigger a little more in the offensive zone. Some of Anderson’s best stops came in the first period which included two complete thieveries that came off the stick of Killorn.
5. The Rookies
Let’s end on a positive. Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh looked to have their best game of the season so far in Monday night’s loss. They both created several dangerous looks, and both threatened to score their first goal in the NHL. Their chances are coming, and you have to think one of them will break through soon. Hey, maybe they can help get the Lightning an early lead against the Penguins on Tuesday night and help get a monkey off everybody’s back.